What Makes Soil Healthy?


Photo credit to Cover Crops Canada

Soil health has been defined as “the continued capacity of soil to function as a vital living system, within ecosystem and land-use boundaries, to sustain biological productivity, maintain the quality of air and water environments, and promote plant, animal, and human health”. The challenge with this poetic definition is that, while it does describe the functional abilities of soil, it does not provide quantifiable values or measurements. There are no metrics to determine what makes soil healthy or to help identify the current soil health status (i.e. is it healthy or does it still need work?).

Although most producers can agree that soil health is important, actual measurable values of what makes soil “healthy” will vary from farm to farm. Numerous research projects across the globe are working on gaining a better understanding of soil health and what that means for individual operations but have yet to come up with specific, global parameters other than the definition provided in 1996. This challenge makes sense – consider Canada for instance. Values for pH, salinity, water infiltration, and organic matter vary significantly across the country and what is considered “good” in one area may not be considered valuable in another region. Continue reading

Attention Researchers And Extension Agents: Deadline For BCRC LOIs Is 2 Weeks Away



The Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and Alberta Beef Producers (ABP) invite letters of intent (LOIs) for research projects as well as for technology transfer and production economics projects. The application deadline for these separate but concurrent calls is August 7, 2020 at 11:59 PM MT.

The purpose of these two targeted calls is to achieve objectives in the Canadian Beef Research and Technology Transfer Strategy and the National Beef Strategy. These calls are made possible by the recent increase in the Canadian Beef Cattle Check-Off in most provinces, along with funds provided and administered by ABP. Producer check-off funds allocated to approved projects will need to be leveraged by other industry or government cash contributions. Match leverage funding does not have to be confirmed at the time an LOI is submitted but must be in place prior to BCRC contracting an approved project.

Target outcomes have been clearly defined for both calls through extensive consultation with research teams and industry stakeholders to identify critical needs and key areas where the BCRC and ABP can have the greatest impact. Please refer to the target outcomes listed within the Call for Letters of Intent documents linked below before deciding whether to submit an LOI.

All call-related information can also be found at www.beefresearch.ca on the Forms and Downloads page.

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Bov-Innovation will Come to You this August in a New Online Format

Like everyone this year, the Beef Cattle Research Council (BCRC) and its industry counterparts have had to adjust their planned events. The BCRC is pleased to make their Bov-Innovation 2020 sessions available to even more producers and industry stakeholders with a free, virtual series open to anyone who registers for the Canadian Beef Industry Virtual Conference.  The conference is co-hosted by partners including the BCRC, Canada Beef, the Canadian Beef Breeds Council (CBBC), the Canadian Cattlemen’s Association (CCA), and the National Cattle Feeders’ Association (NCFA). The door is open for this online event which will take place on August 11-13, 2020.  Links to recorded sessions will also be available to registrants to watch later at their convenience.

As part of the conference, Bov-Innovation will take place on Wednesday, August 12, 2020 and will include a virtual tour, a live question and answer segment, demonstrations, and more. Bov-Innovation is designed for producers with sessions focused on practical ideas, tips, and practices that are supported by science. There are two sessions this year, a Virtual Silvopasture Tour and a segment on Acing Your Next Feed Test: Continue reading